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What You Need to Know About Google’s May Core Update

Nicki Betterbid

Every digital marketing professional, advertiser, and publisher has, at one time or another, experienced the drastic impact a Google algorithm change can have on their website traffic, search results, and PageRank. We’ve all heard the stories of a website’s traffic plummeting overnight due to one of these Google algorithm changes.

We often take solace in the fact that most algorithm changes are relatively inconsequential. Prior estimates had Google changing its algorithm upwards of 500 to 600 times a year, meaning there are between one to two updates on any given day. However, more recently, Google made over 4,500 algorithm adjustments in 2020 alone.

Most of us never notice any impact from these minor adjustments. Instead, we’re more focused on the more significant, less frequent updates. Commonly referred to as a “broad core algorithm update,” Google launched the first of these updates in 2018. Since then, they have been enacting three of these core updates yearly.

So, what is a core algorithm update? More importantly, what did advertisers and publishers see from the most recent Google Core Update in May?

Understanding Broad Core Algorithm Updates

We’ve experienced extensive Google algorithm updates in the past. There was “Panda” in 2011, “Penguin” in 2012, “Hummingbird” in 2013, “Mobilegeddon” in 2015, “Rankbrain” in 2017, and “Bert” in 2019, and on and on. However, with these updates, digital marketers got a sense of what should be fixed or adjusted with content or search to mitigate the impact of these changes on website traffic.

The “Mobilegeddon” change ushered in a new era of mobile-optimized and mobile-friendly websites. With “Mobilegeddon,” Google provided plenty of information for website designers on how they should make their website and landing pages visible and easily navigable on any screen size.

However, ever since the first core update was launched in 2018, Google has been somewhat vague about what marketers, publishers, and advertisers need to do in response to the changes. Much like the name implies, a core algorithm update is an update to Google’s “core” algorithm. That algorithm measures a website’s PageRank based on a series of website signals defining the website, landing pages, and content on popularity and topic relevance.

May 2022: Google Core Update

So, what did the May 25th Google Core Update change? Well, the jury still isn’t out yet about what exactly changed. There are pundits, advertisers, and online publications, all offering insight into the impact of the change.

Some claim the May 2022 core update has been more volatile than the November 2021 core update. Others say the impact has been minimal. Ultimately, that’s the point; with every core update, some websites see a noticeable increase in traffic, and others see a noticeable decline. Someone goes up while someone else goes down.

We know that this core update was launched on May 25th at 11:30 pm eastern standard time (EST). It has affected all types of content and in all kinds of industries. It’s had a global impact on search results across multiple languages, and its effects were felt within 24 hours of launch. So, what should you do if this most recent core algorithm change has impacted your website traffic?

Revisit Your Content

By now, you should have a clear indication of where you lost traffic if you lost any traffic at all. You should also know which keywords you’ve lost real estate on. Start by identifying where you lost traffic, and the regions, age groups, and demographics impacted by the change.

Try to identify any commonalities between content that have now lost traffic. Did it occur because of a specific type of content? Were certain keywords affected? Were you ranking high for a given keyword, and now you aren’t? Each of these questions needs to be answered and will invariably involve some research on your part.

Be sure to focus on whether your content has become stale or outdated. It’s common for some content to lose its relevance over time. In fact, Google listed a series of questions publishers should focus on when assessing the quality of their content. Some are included below.

  • Does your content provide pertinent, relevant, and original information?
  • Does your content include any vital statistics, analytics, data, or metrics that help distinguish your content?
  • Is there something you can add to the content that will help improve its relevance?
  • Is your content up-to-date with recent and emerging trends and news?
  • What can you learn from the content that replaced yours in search results?
  • Have you linked to outside sources that are no longer deemed relevant?
  • Have you incorporated high-quality images?
  • Have you summarized your statistics and insight into a thought-provoking infographic?
  • Does your content appeal to a specific audience that has recently changed in terms of its preferences and needs?

Revamp Landing Pages

Itemizing the content that’s been affected is one step, but the other is to do a deep dive into each of the landing pages that have seen a decline in traffic. Yes, your landing pages have content, so you’re probably tackling both of these issues simultaneously.

However, a landing page is more than just its content. It’s how it’s structured. It’s the links you’ve included to other landing pages and outside sources. It’s the infographics you’ve incorporated into your content piece that helps to sell a message. It’s the high-definition images and eye-catching visuals that catch and keep your audience’s attention.

Revamping landing pages is so much more than just upgrading the content. Start by comparing your landing page to that of your competitors. Use a keyword you used to rank high on but haven’t since the most recent May change. Identify the landing page that took your spot or the ones above yours in search results.

Start Planning Your Next Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaign

Seeing your PageRank suffer on a keyword you’ve worked hard to build up is the personification of frustration. Revising your content is the all-important first step to rebuilding your ranking for a given keyword. Revamping your landing pages will help, as will running a PPC advertising campaign.

Your PageRank is driven by your organic content and your paid traffic. You must start by researching your next PPC campaign for that specific keyword you’ve lost traffic on. Try to make the changes to your content and landing page at the same time you’re launching your new PPC campaign. Treat the entire effort of rebuilding your PageRank for your chosen keyword as one complete campaign.

Algorithm-Proof Your Website with PBJ Marketing

At PBJ Marketing, we help all kinds of companies in all kinds of industries navigate the constantly-changing world of digital marketing. We understand that Google Core Updates can have a drastic impact on your company’s PageRank and website traffic. That’s why we work specifically with your goals in mind. If you would like to work with a proactive digital marketing partner, then contact us now.